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What Impact Does Unaffordable Healthcare Has in the Society?

Updated on January 11, 2022
Nyamweya profile image

Nyamweya is a global researcher with many years of experience on practical research on a diversity of topics

In the recent past, there is no doubt that healthcare costs has been increasing significantly in the modern society. The complex means through which citizens pay for healthcare are obscuring the impact of this growth in healthcare costs on the finances of families. According to a report by the Rand Corporation, the growth in healthcare costs has over the past decade led to average families consuming a better part of their disposable income on healthcare. In its evaluation, the report noted that between 2007 and 2017, the monthly income of a typical family rose by approximately $1.9(ksh 1900). However, much of this money went out of the families coffers to other expenses. To be precise, the rise of basic consumer goods alongside other non-healthcare taxes absorbed 52% half of the money. Most of the remainder was consumed by higher health care costs. Interestingly, the consistent growth of healthcare costs has also affected the economy since the economic power of individuals is hindered. When an individual loses, it is the nation that loses.

Despite earlier years when the budget was in surplus and the healthcare sector was fully catered for, part of the government spending from 2016 to 2018 were heavily financed by borrowing instead of tax collections. These massive borrowings have adversely affected the government spending on many economic aspects as it has to raise taxes to repay the loans borrowed. On the other hand, the government has no money to pay for essential healthcare facilities and even medication. This may explain why many public hospitals are underfunded, understaffed, no sufficient amenities, low resources, lack of proper medical resources including medicines and even poor services.

It also needs to be considered that most of the people who visit public health facilities are those from poor and average background. Individuals from these backgrounds are unable to visit private health facilities which most of the time have the necessary amenities to cater for their healthy needs. They consider them as expensive and thus cannot afford them. Consequently, many people have been dying on the public health facilities because they are unable to access health services. The failure to access health services is attributed to congestion (considering that people are scrambling for the service), lack of medication, lack of practitioners, and other reasons already mentioned above.

Nonetheless, the healthcare sector can not all be considered as gloom and doom. The government has indeed been doing a lot to enhance the image and efficiency of the sector. For instance, from 2015, the government has been acquiring expensive healthcare technology, such as CT scans and MRs which are used for advanced diagnostic imaging, hiring of foreign experts, increasing the number of cancer machines among other measures. However, it ought to be considered that the incorporation of these new technologies culminates into extra spending. However, this extra spending does not necessarily lead to better health or accessibility of health by the common citizen. Furthermore, the high level of expenditure on health facilities has added to the national budget deficit. The more disturbing fact is that many people today are dying year in and year out from common ailments that could be treated. It is also a fact that there are many people dying today simply because they cannot access healthcare due to lack of money. These sobering facts are good indicator on the need for the government to work towards reducing healthcare costs and make it affordable to the common citizen.

The constitution clearly stipulates that every citizen needs to access free healthcare. Public hospitals should and need to provide free healthcare to all citizens across the country. This can be done through a number of means including creating a universal health cover where health insurance is offered at a lower price as possible. Lowering of the amount paid for insurance cover will certainly encourage citizens to enroll in the program. At the same time, the government will be able to generate sufficient resources to stock and equip the facilities so that they are able to serve the public as required. When people are able to easily access healthcare when they fall ill, they will not lose much time lying without working and hence there will be a consistent productivity in the country. This will also be advantageous to the economy and the country at large.


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